Constance* is 40 year-old-mother of four who collected unemployment compensation after her employer sent her home in early 2020 due to COVID-19. Constance later received a letter from the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) stating that she had an overpayment of state unemployment benefits of approximately $3,000. This amount later increased to over $7,000, including federal unemployment benefits.
Although Constance was working again, she only made $1,000 a month. Constance could not afford to pay this amount back, as she used every penny she made to care for her household. Constance reached out to Coast to Coast Legal Aid Service of South Florida (CCLA) for free civil legal assistance. CCLA advocates determined that the overpayment happened during a time when the DEO CONNECT website was not working and beneficiaries were required to certify after the payment was received.
CCLA helped Constance file the initial appeal, represented her at the DEO hearing, and appealed to the Reemployment Assistance Appeals Commission (RAAC). Fortunately, the appeal was successful and Constance now has $0 overpayment balance. Without the assistance of the CCLA advocates, Constance said she would have a large debt with her credit cards that she would not know how or when to pay. Having access to free quality civil legal assistance made a difference in Constance life!
For more information about Coast to Coast Legal Aid Service of South Florida (CCLA) or to donate, please visit: www.coasttocoastlegalaid.org
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*Names, images, and details have been changed to protect our client’s privacy